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28th May 2020
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Health Technology Wales Repurposes Skills to Support Response to COVID-19

Health Technology Wales is delivering a strategic, national approach to the identification, appraisal and adoption of new technologies into health and care settings.

Researchers at the independent body, which was set up in 2017, have repurposed their health technology assessment skills during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to support the response and collaborate with partner organisations.

Keen to share information with policy makers as quickly as possible, Health Technology Wales adapted to the rapidly developing situation to support evidence-informed decision making. The organisation reacted by producing several new COVID-19 related outputs, including evidence reviews, costing reviews and rapid summaries.

Collaboration

Health Technology Wales joined a Welsh Government led consortium of stakeholders to deliver the national plan for COVID-19 testing. The consortium includes key decision makers in health and care, such as Public Health Wales, health boards and academic partners.

Testing is a vital part of the work to protect the public, optimise the outcomes for our patients and keep essential services running in Wales. The national plan for COVID-19 testing focused on two key objectives;

  • to reduce the harm caused by COVID-19
  • to help the public and professionals get back to their normal daily lives.

“We asked the group to identify priority COVID-19 related technology topics that required rapid turnaround,” explained Dr Susan Myles, Director of Health Technology Wales. “Our researchers then produced Topic Exploration Reports (TERs), which quickly appraise the quantity, quality of the available evidence on a technology.

“This offer was also extended to wider stakeholders and it resulted in the publication of several TERs on our website. This covered point-of-care smartphone applications, cytokine adsorbers, hydrogen peroxide vapour to reprocess single use personal protective equipment and convalescent plasma therapy.”

Health Technology Wales also joined the Welsh Government’s COVID-19 Research Cell that is sharing intelligence and coordinating connections into UK wide processes for research.

Evidence review

At the request of the Welsh Government testing group, Health Technology Wales undertook a first major review of evidence about the effectiveness of tests to detect the presence of the virus or antibodies to inform diagnosis of COVID-19.

The review set the context for decision makers in Welsh Government, health and social care. Based on the most recent published evidence available, the review assists their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is a clear example of facilitating evidence-informed decisions.

Health Technology Wales keeps the review current by conducting ongoing literature surveillance. This will ensure regularly updated versions of the review keep decision makers aware of the best available evidence.

Following this work, Health Technology Wales accepted an invitation to co-author an international evidence review. A Rapid Collaborative Review on the role of antibody tests will be published in the summer in partnership with the European Network for Health Technology Assessment (EUnetHTA).

HealthTech Connect

Since cases of COVID-19 started to be confirmed in the UK, Health Technology Wales has used HealthTech Connect, an online platform provided by NICE, to identify emerging diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.

Companies register their health technology on the platform and Health Technology Wales uses that information to identify if it’s suitable for evaluation. Researchers have produced TERs to provide a high-level briefing and help decision makers in care systems to consider if further evidence synthesis work is required.

By using HealthTech Connect, Health Technology Wales has identified COVID-19 related technologies from two companies; LINC Medical and ResAppDX-EU.

Scientific advice

Technology developers and companies who are developing therapeutics and diagnostics related to COVID-19 can receive free scientific advice from Health Technology Wales.

“We’re really pleased to offer our scientific advice completely free of charge for COVID-19 related technologies,” said Matthew Prettyjohns, Principal Researcher at Health Technology Wales.

“Our advice can help with a number of different aspects. We have the expertise to provide advice on evidence generation, economic modelling and more. This advice is suitable to a technology at various stages of development and we encourage companies to get in touch with us to arrange a discussion.”

Visit www.healthtechnology.wales/covid-19 for further updates.